Amazon is in talks to buy stake in AI truck-driving startup Plus

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Amazon.com Inc. has placed an order for 1,000 autonomous driving systems from startup Plus for self-driving trucks and is in talks to buy a whopping 20% ​​stake, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The deal would give Amazon the right to buy preferred shares of Plus through a warrant at a price of $0.46647 per share, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. That would equate to a 20% stake based on Plus’s shares outstanding prior to the planned merger with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. Q. A company that filed a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed Bloomberg’s report.

The Sequoia Capital China-backed company, which develops autonomous driving technology for long-haul transportation, is expected to be valued at $3.3 billion, adding $500 million in revenue to accelerate its expansion, the company said in a statement. in May. The company raised $150 million through so-called private equity investment, or PIPE, from funds such as BlackRock Inc. and DE Shaw.

Plus declined to comment via an emailed statement. An Amazon representative said the company was unable to comment immediately.

Cupertino, California-based Plus is among a handful of startups trying to build a fragmented long-haul transportation business with driverless technology. It is working with Chinese delivery company SF Holding Co., which uses Plus-compatible trucks that can travel 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) per day, Plus said in April. The state-owned China FAW Group Co. plans to begin mass production of jointly developed autonomous trucks this quarter, Plus said.

The Hennessy SPAC raised $345 million in an IPO in January. Chief Executive Officer Daniel J. Hennessy previously led blank check companies that closed deals to create companies, including Canoo Inc., the electric vehicle developer, Blue Bird Corp., which makes school buses, and Texas-based transportation and transportation company. logistics company Daseke Inc.

Plus was founded in 2016 by a group of classmates from Stanford University and is backed by investors including Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., GSR Ventures Management and a Chinese long-haul company known in English as Full Truck Alliance. It also has a partnership with European truck manufacturer Iveco SpA and works with Cummins Inc. to the use of autonomous technology in trucks that run on natural gas.

Plus raised $200 million in February in a funding round that attracted new investors such as Guotai Junan International Holdings and Citic Private Equity Funds Management Co. It raised an additional $220 million in March from investors led together by FountainVest Partners and ClearVue Partners.

It started delivering its PlusDrive automated driving system to some customers in the US and China this year.

The company recently hired Dennis Mooney of Navistar International Corp. and Chuck Joseph of Amazon.com Inc. hired to scale production and drive adoption of Plus technology.

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